fom stories

Member Stories: A Founding Member Special Feature

Ken beattie


I have played the accordion for most of my life, and have stuck with it.  I started learning the instrument at age 8, when 2 salesmen travelling door to door show up at my home.  I took private lessons for 10 years and competed in Victoria and Seattle, in the early years.  I placed first in on competition here, but received only a certificate, because that was prior to the use of trophies and cash prizes in the “Victoria Music Festival”, I did receive a nice trophy when I placed second at a Seattle competition, however. 

Having been an air cadet since age 14, I learned to fly and received my private pilot licence in 1978 at the age of 19.  Although I take pride in my musical achievements, my flying days mean more to me than anything.  The highlight was piloting a Cessna 172, down to Redding California, to drop off a stock car racer and his mechanic.  They paid for the rental of the airplane, and I built the flying hours! Eventually I was medically grounded, but I went on to volunteer as a tourn guide at the BC Aviation Museum, and to visit world war 2 Airforce veterans.

After having worked at many different jobs, in 1984 I started busking the Victoria Inner Harbour causeway.  Here I learned to perform in front of people that I met from all over the world, and the tips kept doing this for 17 years, on and off.  This experience led me to many a paid gig, because if people liked the music they heard, they would know if it was a fit for their function.

All in all, my accordion has been good to me.  It has given me a purpose, the opportunity to make people happy, and an income.

In 1986, I performed in front of 800 at the Royal Theatre, as part of the United Way Variety Show.  I had to audition in order to be part of it.  I have played background music in several restaurants, including many years that I subbed at the Rathskeller Schnitzel House.  Here in Victoria the furthest I have travelled was to Port Hardy for a 4-nght engagement at a restaurant, meals and motel included, but it was an 8 hour drive each way.

On weekends, I used to play at Harbour Public Market, before it became Value Village.  It was fun to stroll past all the kiosks providing music for the shoppers.  There were many other gigs in all sorts of settings, over the past 40 years.  One example that was very memorable, was playing for a party at the rooftop of the Chateau Victoria Hotel.

Getting involved with Friends of Music Society has given me the chance to experiment and be creative and to meet like-minded people.  I started out in the Moodswing Orchestra, later moving on to The Eclectics.  I also enjoy playing at Open Mic on Sundays, but most of all, I am so happy to see our unique and wonderful organization still going strong.

Artwork by Ken Beattie

Performance at the Victoria Accordion Club’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

Ken Beattie performing at the Victoria College of Art, where he used to attend.

Artwork by Ken Beattie

Play Video

Ken Beattie performing at The Rathskeller restaurant